Windows 2.0

Missing image
Microsoft Windows 2.03

Windows 2.0, released in 1987, was a version of the Microsoft Windows graphical user interface that was said to look similar to the Mac OS and more closely matched Microsoft's pre-release publicity for Windows 1.0, but was somewhat more primitive than Apple's interface. Version 2.0 allowed for windows to overlap each other, as contrasted with Windows 1.0, which could only display multiple windows on screen by tiling them (although technically, drop-down menus in Windows 1.0 were a form of window overlapping). The window-manipulation terminology of "Minimize" and "Maximize" was introduced with this version, as was a more sophisticated keyboard-shortcut mechanism in which shortcut keys were identified by underlining the character that, in conjunction with the "Alt" key, would cause them to be selected. File management tasks were still managed by use of the MS-DOS Executive program introduced in Windows 1.0, which was more list-driven than icon-oriented.

The first Windows versions of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel ran on Windows 2.0. Third-party developer support for Windows increased substantially with this version (some shipping the Windows Runtime software with their applications, for customers who had not purchased the full version of Windows), but most developers still maintained DOS versions of their applications, as Windows users were still a distinct minority of their market.


A year later, Windows/286 2.1 and Windows/386 2.1 were released, which could take advantage of the specific features of the Intel 80286 and Intel 80386 processors.

Windows/286 took advantage of the HMA to increase the memory available to Windows programs. It introduced the himem.sys DOS driver for this purpose. It also included support for several EMS boards for this same purpose (this support was not related to the 80286 processor per-se). The segmented nature of Windows programs was quite suited to the usage of EMS, as portions of code and data could be made visible in the first megabyte of memory accessible to real-mode programs only when the program using them was given control. Microsoft encouraged users to configure their computers with only 256KB of main memory, leaving the address space from 256-640KB available for dynamic mapping of EMS memory.


Windows/386 was much more innovative. It introduced a protected mode kernel, above which the GUI and applications were running as a virtual 8086 mode task. It allowed several MS-DOS programs to run in parallel in virtual machines, rather than always suspending background applications. (Windows applications could already run in parallel through cooperative multitasking.) Each DOS application could use as much low memory as was available before Windows was started, minus a few kilo-bytes of overhead. Windows also provided EMS emulation, using the memory management features of the processor to make RAM beyond 640K behave like the banked memory previously only supplied by add-in cards and used by popular DOS applications. (By overwriting the WIN200.BIN file with, it was possible to use the EMS emulation in DOS without starting the Windows GUI.) There was no disk-based virtual memory, so multiple DOS programs had to fit inside the available physical memory; Microsoft suggested buying additional memory (and cards) if necessary.

Neither of these versions worked with DOS memory managers like CEMM or QEMM or with DOS extenders, which had their own extended memory management and ran in protected mode as well. This has been remedied in version 3.0 which was compatible with VCPI in "standard mode" and with DPMI in "386 enhanced" mode.

The various Windows 2.x versions were superseded by Windows 3.0 in May 1990.

See also: Apple v. Microsoft

External links

  • GUIdebook: Windows 2.0 Gallery ( - A website dedicated to preserving and showcasing Graphical User Interfaces

History of Microsoft Windows
Windows: 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.x | NT | 95 | 98 | Me | 2000 | XP | Server 2003 | Server 2003 R2 | CE | Mobile | Longhorn | Blackcomb
de:Microsoft Windows 2.0

fr:Windows 2 hu:Windows 2.0 it:Windows 2.0 nl:Windows 2.0 pl:Microsoft Windows 2.0 zh:Windows 2.0


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools